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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 932947, 19 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/2012/932947
Research Article

Diversity of the Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species of Importance in Benin

1Laboratory of Agricultural Biodiversity and Tropical Plant breeding (LAAPT), Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FAST), University of Abomey-Calavi, BP 526, Cotonou, Benin
2Crop, Aromatic and Medicinal Plant Biodiversity Research and Development Institute (IRDCAM), 071BP28, Cotonou, Benin
3Bioversity International, Office of West and Central Africa, 08 BP 0931, Cotonou, Benin
4Department of Nutrition and Food Technology, Faculty of Agriculture (FSA), University of Abomey-Calavi, BP 526, Cotonou, Benin
5National Herbarium, Department of Botany and Plant Biology, Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FAST), University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC), BP 526, Cotonou, Benin
6Laboratoire de Botanique, Faculté des sciences (FS), Université de Lomé, BP 1515, Lomé, Togo

Received 25 October 2011; Accepted 11 January 2012

Academic Editor: Mehmet Yakup Arica

Copyright © 2012 A. Dansi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Many of the plant species that are cultivated for food across the world are neglected and underutilized. To assess their diversity in Benin and identify the priority species and establish their research needs, a survey was conducted in 50 villages distributed throughout the country. The study revealed 41 neglected and underutilized crop species (NUCS) among which 19 were identified as of priority base on 10 criteria among which included their extent and degree of consumption. Reasons for neglect vary with the producers and the agricultural technicians. Market surveys revealed that NUCS are important source of household incomes and substantially contribute to poverty reduction. Review of the literature available revealed that most of the species are rich in nutrients and have some proven medicinal values and the promotion of their use would help in combating malnutrition and improving the health status of the local populations. The knowledge gaps and research needs are immense on most of the species identified as no concrete scientific data is nationally available. In terms of research, almost all has to be done starting from basic ethnobotanical investigation. The results will help the scientists and students willing to conduct research on NUCS in Benin to better orient their research programs.